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Defining a Witch: Your Path as Straight or Crooked...

Defining a Witch: Your Path as Straight or Crooked as it Needs to Be

the house of twigs path define what is witchcraft

One might conjure up ideas of a sorting hat or houses like we see in the popular series of Harry Potter movies or books. In reality, I find that defining your path can sometimes be namable and unnamable. This goes for beginner Witchlings and lifetime witch practitioners.

JK Rowling, you did us dirty.

 

We have to ask ourselves why we need to name ourselves?

We don’t really, but one thing it does it help us feel less isolated or alone on a discovery and practice that is very much personal and done by the individual.

 

One question I get in my witch shop often is: How do I identify my specific path of witchcraft? Where do I start and how do I name myself? Where is the ONE book I need?

Sadly, I always have to shake my head and go down this long explanation that there is no one book, this is the path, and you have to walk it by making choices and choosing what works with your personal morals, your internal compass, and current views on life. And also, these will probably change, so don’t get too set on what that means.

 

As I delve into this web of thoughts on how to navigate and find your path, I also wanted to note some of the books that I recommend for those searching to identify what their path really is.

 

When doing so, I like to bring up the idea of witchcraft as an old tree. The roots all come from a similar place, likely based in the rhythms of nature, the earth, cycles, symbolic representations, etc. These can vary from place to place, or culture, but the branches are what make us diverse and special. Sometimes these branches can directly disagree with one another. That is totally okay and you can continue to have a practice or belief that doesn’t generally have the same ideas. It is your path and no one elses. You also need to explore and little bit and see what you are drawn to. What fits and what feels good. What do you read about and automatically say “nope, def not that one”.

The branches of this Tree of Witchcraft are extensive, diversive, complex in their overlapping, and range from religion with a practice to a practice with no religion.

witch practice tree define path the hosue of twigs thot

A small list of these branches but not limited to them are: Wicca, Vodou, Hoodoo, Obeah, Quimbanda, Conjure, Stregha (Italian), Jewish Mysticism, some Indigenous Spirituality, some Asian Shamanism such as Korean, Ainu, Mongolian, etc., Trad Craft (aka Traditional European Witchcraft), Lacumi, Brujeria, Santeria, Celtic/Scottish Craft, Druid, Heathenry, Norse Pantheon, Slavic Witchraft, Paganism with the old gods such as Roman Pantheon, Greek Pantheon, etc., Luciferianism, Satanism, Hedgewitchery, New Age Spiritualist, Gnostic, Thelema, Masonic (only some traditions), High Magick, Occult, the list just goes on. I feel like it is impossible to have an exhausted, list but you get the idea. Within each of these branches there are sub-branches, tools, and ideas of rituals and workings.

Once you find things that interest you, it is time to delve into your practice and application.

 

 

I have referred many witching’s to books like Laura Tempest’s Weave the Liminal for more extensive understanding of how to develop a practice that is not exactly defined by someone else, or a combination of ideas that don’t necessarily resonate with each other. I think she says it best.

“Now we are going to get down to the business of defining your own path. When it comes to Witchcraft, authenticity has nothing to do with age. Rather the focus should be on answering the question Does this work — for me?  How do you determine what will work best for you? …

“Wondering where one falls on someone else’s “real Witchcraft” measuring stick causes unnecessary stress. Their stick doesn’t matter–yours does. To be authentic means “to be real, genuine, verified, representing one’s true nature of beliefs, to be true to oneself”. – Weave the Liminal: Living Modern Traditional Witchcraft  by Laura Tempest Zakroff – excerpt from page 48

Laura Tempest Zakroff The House of Twigs THoT path identify Witchraft

Want a copy?

 

Let’s take an example of one of our beloved writers, Jaclyn Cherie of The Nephilim Rising. They identify as a Shaivite Hindu as well as a Luciferian witch. Does not identify as a pagan, but does not practice the same dogmatic Luciferian practice that many others might directly associate. This can bring in itself some head scratching. However, the confusion comes from people don’t have knowledge of these practices or they wear the proverbial blinders that there can be only one. Jaclyn is amidst writing her second course to her variation of Luciferianism. It is highly anticipated and everyone asks… but no, it isn’t ready yet!

Not all people who work with Lucifer are Luciferians. Satanism is not Luciferianism.

“Satanists can be either Atheistic (LaVeyan Satanism) or can be Theistic, or what is known as Spiritual Satanism; which is the belief in a supreme power/being(s) but much like most theistic Luciferians they do not worship, merely acknowledge, occasionally paying their respects to their deities in casting or ritual. So, where do we differ?

Satanism is based upon the force of Satan: The Adversary.

Whereas Luciferianism is based upon Lucifer: The Light bringer.

There are some Luciferians who also view Lucifer as an Adversary, but he is the Light Bringer before he is an opponent of God; at least in my opinion.”

– Jacklyn Cherie of The Nephilim Rising on The House of Twigs: Lessons in Magick : Satanist, Luciferians, Stereotypes & Stigmas

PSA Notice – there are not terms such as white witch, black magic, lightworker, or empath being used… these are not paths, they are choices of flavoring and can come with heaps of contextual issues when used as a blanket statement. Ex ” I am a lightworker and don’t associate with witchraft, just good vibes”.

Lessons in Magick: Satanists, Luciferians, Stereotypes & Stigmas

 

So, let’s break this tree concept down further.

Some practices are a RELIGION, that also includes what I would consider a form of magickal practice. This would include religions like Wicca and Vodou. Don’t forget all the main religions. You can be one of those and still have a magickal practice. Some religions as the ones I mentioned are inherently tied to more magickal practices so they are noted.

Wicca is not synonymous with being a witch, so not all witches are wiccan, but you can be both, or may be Wiccan be not identify as a witch. For some reason this is very confusing to the general public.

Some Wiccans are polytheistic (many gods/goddesses), while some are monotheisitc (only one). Some Wiccans are both duotheistic and polytheistic, (and sometimes a combination of duotheism, polytheism, and pantheism).

Got that?

 

Some MAGICKAL practices are commonly associated with identifying practices such as hoodoo, practiced by many people with religions ranging from Vodou, Christianity, to Atheism. Hoodoo’s roots are associated with Indigenous Americans, Africans (displaced to America by force of slavery), and Celtic practices as well as a melding (or some might say hiding) within the normalcy and acceptance of Christianity. Remember that people were unable to practice their non-Christian beliefs in plain sight. To do so could have even brought about death! But, you don’t have to belong to any of those backgrounds or religions to practice hoodoo. However, one should take note of their origins and how it came about.

(A well respected author on the topic of Hoodoo is Stephanie Rose Bird. She also wrote Sticks, Stones, Roots, and Bones, which I covet as well.)

 

Commonly, aspects of Hoodoo are combined with Christianity, but others, such as Najah Lightfoot is an eclectic practitioner of Hoodoo, because she practices European traditional witchcraft as well as High Magick. She is a Vodou initiate and uses the Psalms, but “will never pray to a white Jesus” (as she proudly stated in her workshop in PDX Sep 2019). Instead Najah combines workings with the goddess in her Hoodoo workings.

And yes, she is a badass, powerhouse of a magical worker which is also why I love her. Her book Good Juju is an excellent book for learning how to blend and meld ritual work without dismantling your religious practice. Read my interview with her last year on her and the Vodou society she is in (linked below her book).

 

 

Najah Lightfoot : A Look into La Source Ancienne Ounfo Vodou and Good Juju

 

We see this kind of melding of religious identity with other practices such as Appalachian magick (a form of conjure) which is associated with local folklore herbalism and mountain magick, again,  hiding through the veil of Christianity as a means of not standing out. We also see this across the globe in places like Cornwall, where the magick is folklore herbalism and conjure based, but hidden beneath things like the Psalms from the Christian Bible. Many of these practices have been passed down just like in Hoodoo, where maybe you saw your grandma practicing something and it was just the thing they did. They seemed like a nice old Christian lady, but they were actually practicing magick!

(Examples of this are Backwoods Witchcraft by Jake Richards or pretty much anything by Gemma Gary via Troy Books.)

“There was a time before the internet when charms and works were thought of as nothing more than ole wives tales and backwards folks’ superstition. Things have changed, and now folks are beginning to see and understand just how powerful those superstitions and wives tales really are; because at the end of the day, they aren’t just tales after all, but a strong foundation that some of us are lucky enough to build upon. I feel like the ancestors are pushing forward, they want the wisdom of past ages shared. Folks need the powerful foundation of these ole tales in today’s world, and Jake has done a wonderful job of sharing his knowledge through this book” –  Foreward by Starr Casas of Old Style Conjure, in Backwoods Witchcrafts by Jake Richards

 

Basically this comes down to CULTURE and REGIONAL associations. Every land mass has had some for of magickal practice whether it focuses on seasonal changes (because, duh, we used to have to grow all of our food and this was survival), or ancestral (because they taught us or somehow watch over, or we need to help take care of them). Within those cultures and regions, specific practices have been used and practiced. Some written down and some more word of mouth.

One that comes to mind is the recently published book, Italian Magic by Karyn Crisis.

“Looking for the meaning behind your Italian grandma’s rituals?
Curious about their source and wondering if there’s more to the story?
Seeking magic beyond what the Romans wrote about in fragments?
Wondering why no one can seem to find the mythical witch cults?

This book will answer all these questions
and reveal a groundbreaking view into the hidden world of rural Italy:
the ONLY pervasive holistic system of daily sacred magic indigenous to Italy and her islands,
whose traditions existed in all rural communities regardless of cultural influences.

In these communities:
– magic was the daily medicine
– women were the sole operators of magic
– people lived an entire way of life in accordance with the cycles of nature

and the energetic laws of the universe.
– the spirit world was as real as the earthly word
– psychic language was spoken in parallels
– shamanic inheritances received from spirits were handed down for generations between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons.” – Karyn Crisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you work with GODS and GODDESSES that don’t like each other? The short answer is yes. Do you have to work with deities at all? No, not everyone does.

The long answer is that some of them may not get along. Many of the deities I work with have to have their own shelf or altar because I can feel them scowling at one another if they are too close. Some are loud, some are sweet and love children. Some of them demand much more attention and some will sheepishly say thanks when you drop them something special on their section of the altar. Some get a bit pissy if you don’t give them attention. You will have to try out different things for works with what energies and spaces you use. But this is of course based on with whom you work with, and how. I am eclectic and work with many pantheons, but that works for me.

 

I have been asked what is a hedgewitch? Most commonly heard today, a hedgewitch is one who prefers to work within the plant world (likely made popular by TV depictions). They probably are a bit of a kitchen witch (cook with some magickal ingredients), have some plant babies or garden, and use herbs to make potions or charms. In this sense, you can be a hedgewitch, but magickal herbalism is a TOOL used commonly in witchcraft, just like working with crystals or astrology are also TOOLS.

A traditional hedgewitch was/is actually a “hedge rider”, one that walks between worlds through trance, animal, plant, or spirit guides. They may or may not dabble with plants! This is dependent on the things and areas we discussed above such as culture and region.

I do teach a magickal herbalism course that works with pretty much with any magickal practice or religion, and use the magickal alignments of plants and their folklore uses to make potions. This is only a TOOL and aspect but does not define your path… AKA you are not a Magickal Herba-Witch?!

 

So with this blending of ideas, religions, cultural and regional practices, and rituals, the next question is the practicality of combining these into your path. What are you drawn to, how does it fit. Are you ancestrally related or resonate with the philosophy or ideas of something? How do you respectfully blend these things together? Of course we don’t want to appropriate these things.  Appreciate don’t appropriate. Many traditions require certain steps while others you can pick and choose what you like. Make sure to learn about something before you just dive in and try to call it yours.

Get inspiration from your favorite authors, work with your guides and deities, and learn how to make these authentically yours. Hopefully this small list of books or authors helps navigate what some of these branches are about.

Remember you DON”T have to practice a specific path. You can be like that kid in high-school that didn’t fit in any group but also fit in them all. The diversity of this tree of magickal practices IS it’s strength. It is what ties us together but we also don’t all have to follow the same rules or practices that others tell say is the correct way. By respecting other paths, even if you don’t practice them, it makes us a quite powerful magickal community.

Magick is fucking cool.

  • Author Posts
Owner, Product Fabricator, Tarot Reader , The House of Twigs, Keven Craft Rituals, Queen Meb
Head Mistress of THoT, and THoT: the School of Ritual, Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, and q. Meb ~ Queen Meb the Portland witch shop with handmade skincare products, organic goods, tarot, metaphysical items, home & hearth decor, A practicing eclectic-solitary witch, she works with energy healing / reiki master, psychopomp and psychic work, witch attunements; specializing in tarot and channeling since 1995. Erika rides the cusp of the Alpha / Omega and favors the Morrighan, Isis, Hecate, Freya, and Cernunnos.
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Owner, Product Fabricator, Tarot Reader , The House of Twigs, Keven Craft Rituals, Queen Meb
Head Mistress of THoT, and THoT: the School of Ritual, Owner of Keven Craft Rituals, and q. Meb ~ Queen Meb the Portland witch shop with handmade skincare products, organic goods, tarot, metaphysical items, home & hearth decor, A practicing eclectic-solitary witch, she works with energy healing / reiki master, psychopomp and psychic work, witch attunements; specializing in tarot and channeling since 1995. Erika rides the cusp of the Alpha / Omega and favors the Morrighan, Isis, Hecate, Freya, and Cernunnos.

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